Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s on the Lake,
This past Tuesday, our staff attended a one-day retreat put on by Craig Pohl, our Diocesan director of the New Evangelization. Over the course of the day, Craig gave a series of talks in which he shared his story of searching for God in a time of great darkness, of encountering Jesus in a powerful way, and then what it has been like walking with Him a life of faith. It was a blessing to spend a day with the Lord and pray with our own stories. In the future, I hope to organize days like that not just for the staff, but also for our parishes as a whole. (Certainly not being in a pandemic will help with that!)
In his talk, Craig shared four things we need to do to keep on walking with Jesus if we are going to keep on growing. It comes down to the fact that if we are striving for something, a life lived in God, we need to have a plan. Just like we have a concrete plan for anything else we do—be it our career, schooling, chores, vacations, dieting, etc. That plan has four elements: prayer, community, study/catechesis, and apostolate. Over the next few weeks, I want to walk us through these four elements that need to be part of our plan of faith.
The first element of our ongoing walk of faith is prayer. Craig shared a story about the importance of both knowing where we are going and constantly checking in along the way. If a pilot was flying from New York to Texas and was off just a few degrees, he would end up bringing his passengers not to Texas, but to Haiti. That is why they need to constantly be checking in with flight control all along the way to get updates and make course corrections along the way. An intentional, consistent prayer time keeps us engaged with God and allows Him to give us guidance, direction, and course corrections as needed. It is our way of constantly checking in and making sure we are not missing the mark we are aiming at. If we are aiming for Heaven and want to make sure every part of our life is moving us there, our prayer life is what keeps us connected.
Another element of a consistent prayer life is that it helps us recognize God’s voice. With the people we love, all we need to do is hear their voice and even without seeing them we know they are there. We can pick their voice out of a crowd. With God it is the same thing. Through prayer we spend time with one we love, and we come to know His voice even amidst the cacophony of other voices and distractions that can fill our lives. So many other voices can fill our lives—that of the world or that of the evil one trying to discourage and trip us up. A Christian schooled in prayer comes to have a familiarity with God’s voice. Jesus reminds us that “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
I think this can be applied in a couple of ways. First, we need to plan in a prayer time like we plan anything else. I know it can be hard to find/make time, but the sacrifice is worth it. Those 10 minutes a day can transform us. Some days those ten minutes will be easy. Other days those ten minutes will cost a lot. But through this habit, we will begin living each day in the Lord’s light and love. We will be able to receive the encouragements and corrections we need along the way.
Secondly, Craig specifically mentioned the importance of Scripture in coming to recognize God’s voice. I know someone who recently passed away that had made a habit of reading the Bible every year. He used a Bible that broke the scriptures up into 365 sections so all he had to do was read each day’s section. https://www.amazon.com/Catholic-One-Year-Bible/dp/0879732156 .